Monday, March 31, 2008

Death by chocolate balls

Death by chocolate. Is that possible? Well il tell you one thing, these bombs are a chocoholics dream. I would first like to apologize for my lack of creative photography. You see, I finished making these late easter eave, and there was no good lighting, then I forgot to take a descent picture of them before they vanished into thin air. Woops. These chocolate balls, of cake balls, actually are really fun to make! When I first read the directions I was amazed at how you prepare these little cake balls. You prepare a cake, and bake it. Then once the cake is cooled, you crumble it up! I was like ohh myeee goshhh this is to weird! And strangely fun at the same time!Then you mix in a can of cream cheese frosting. I do not have a picture of this, not only is it not pretty, it is quite messy! Then you roll them into balls!You stick them in the fridge to harden up, then dip them in chocolate!Again, I'm sorry for the crap-tastic pictures. There is a bright side to all of this, they tasted amazing, and decadent. My family loved them, and my older brother Yohann did also. He said that they were great! Which almost put me into a state of shock. I have made a little chart for how Yohanns mind works-->
If he says. . .

"These are the most horrible things that I have ever put in my mouth"
Then he thinks that they are bad.

"These are bad"
He thinks that they are semi decent.

"These are ok"
They are not half bad.

"These are good"
He means wow, I like these a lot!

"These are great"
He is telling you that he loves whatever you have made, and therefore you should bookmark this recipe, and give it a try!!

Red Velvet Cake Balls
1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)(I used chocolate)
1 can cream cheese frosting (16 oz.)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
wax paper

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
2. Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)
4. Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.)
5. Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
6. Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tag. . . your it!!

I got tagged by Daphne over at More Than Words, and at first, I had no idea what I would tell you guys. But then I delved deep into my memory to tell you 5 facts about me. Now, these are completely random facts, mind you. Ok so I'm going to start off with fact number one. . .
  1. I braid my long blond hair almost every day, well actually with the help of my mom, I can't reach all the way down...
  2. Completely random things fascinate me to no end. Like these monks I saw at the grand canyon-->and this aggressive squirrel that wanted to eat my face -->
--> and this tree that had these strange, what looked like beans protruding from it.
3. I survived a five week cross-country trip with my family across the west. The only way that I still live to tell the tale is because of my cousin Gwennie. Good times...good times.4. I love animals. Dogs, bunnies, you name it, I'll hug it. 5. I love to swim.
I'm going to tag. . .

Noble Pig

Feeding Groom

The Reckless Chef

Elle's New England Kitchen

Peanut Butter Boy

If anyone else wants to share things about themselves on their blog, consider yourself tagged! : D

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eggplant saywaht!?

Ok. I have tried so many new recipes right before Easter, and on Easter. I guess that I will just have to start at the beginning, posting according to occurrence. Starting on the night before Easter. Eggplant Parmesan. After making this, I was amazed at how great it tasted, was it possible that something named "eggplant" could taste so good?
Yes, my good friends Bob and Mike did not want me to make dinner. I'm not crazy hehe. By the picture above, you probably thought that I lost my marbles (did I have any to begin with?), but rest assured I am OK. I saw Peters eggplant on his blog, and thought to myself that I should give it a try. So when perusing the veggie isle, I saw those purple guys. I know this is completely random, but I think that eggplants feel like a beluga whale, of a dolphin or something, which kinda creeps me out.I picked them up, and decided to make them tonight. When I read through the directions, after committing to make the recipe I realized how intricate the directions were! Thats ok. I love a good challenge.I had to use my mandoline to cut it even. Then what baffled me was that you had to set them out, sprinkle them with coarse salt, and let them like drain their liquid. There goes my counter space. . .

Yes, my counter is a cluttered mess TAKEN OVER BY EGGPLANTS! You can see the bottles of vitamins and my Snapple white tea that I was drinking. I definitely got my hands full. Then you had to individually bread them, and pan fry them.I didn't actually fry them, more like crisp them in a little oil in the pan. I'm a health nut, sorta like my family, but probably more. Which really doesn't coincide with my blog, because I love love love to bake.
Then you make the sauce, and layer your stuff.Then to go along with this amazing dinner, I made homemade bread. I told you I had my hands full. . . I decided to take a short cut and just make the turtle bread, but shape it in a loaf for convenience. Then you take the dinner out of the oven. Wile the smell permeates the house.I wanted to take a picture of an individual slice for you to see, and I did, but it just didn't do the dinner justice. Plus everybody in the kitchen was staring at me like I was insane as I photographed our meal. Lol.

Eggplant Parmesan
from Kalofagas

2 large eggplants, sliced lenghtwise to 1/2 in. thickness
coarse sea salt

1 can of whole plum tomatoes, hand crushed

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 anchovy filletss, chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs

2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk

sunflower oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

grated Mozzarella
grated Parmesan

  1. Cut the ends of your eggplant off and then using a mandoline, cut the eggplants lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Lay the slice out on a tray and sprinkle each slice with some coarse salt. Allow the bitter juices to leech for 40 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, Place a skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and add your olive oil add your olive oil and anchovy fillets and saute for 3 minutes to soften and perfume the oil.
  3. Add your onions and garlic and lowert to medium-low and saute for 10 minutes to soften. Now add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the sauce is nice and thick. Reserve.
  4. Wipe the excess salt and moisture from your eggplant with kitchen towels. Now set up your dipping stations of eggplant slices, a large bowl of egg/milk mixture and your breadcrumbs. Get another large skillet on the stove and throw on enough sunflower (1/2 inch) oil over medium-high heat.
  5. If your cooking on your own, pre-dredge your eggplant so that you may pay full attention to frying the batches of eggplant. If you have help, have the other person do the dredging and other to do the frying. Dip the eggplant in egg/milk mixture, then the breadcrumbs and fry on both side until golden brown. Fry in batches and reserve on paper towels. Discard the sunflower oil.
  6. Preheat your oven to 400F (middle rack) and commence assembly of your eggplant parmesan.
  7. Grease a 14" X 12" baking dish and spread some tomato sauce on the bottom. Now place a layer of eggplant, some sauce, scatter some basil, grated Mozzarella and Parmesan. Continue layering these ingredients until your you've reached your fourth and last layer of eggplant and pour over the remaining sauce, basil and grated Parmesan.
  8. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake for approx. 20 minutes and then allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Soft pretzel experiment

And so continues my love of carbos. With the last of my crackers quickly devoured, I now needed a new snack. Hmm what shall I make? Well last weekend, up north at a ski lodge, I got a soft pretzel. They are my undoubtedly my favorite snack when out and about. There is just something about them that I can't get enough of! I have made soft pretzels before, but I have also made pretzel rolls. You had to boil, then bake the pretzel rolls, which gave them the signature chewy texture. Since I have never boiled my actual pretzels, I decided that I might as well give it a shot. So this is also a very quick yeast risen bread.I don't know why, but I'm wildly amused by this picture! All I added was yeast sugar and water, and in 5 min it turned into this fizzy beast! How cool! So then you mix up the stuff and let it rise.

This dough is enough for eight pretzels, so divide it up evenly!

Then you shape them into pretzels. Once, wile I was being lazy, I just twisted them into sticks, which was still pretty cool.Ok so here is the moment of truth.**drums for added effect** The mountain of fizz! I think that this happened because of the baking soda that I added. : D So I slid a pretzel at a time into the pot, after the fizz went down. I sprinkled some salt on top of the pretzels, and baked them. I also baked some non boiled pretzels. The pretzel on the left was not boiled, the one on the right was. The ones that were boiled and baked were chewier. I like the ones that were not boiled also, because they were sort of crisp and cool in their own unique way.

*I forgot to brush my non boiled pretzels with egg wash to make them shiny, but thats ok, they were still great!

Soft Pretzels

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tbs baking soda
Combine the yeast, warm water, and sugar in a small dish (5 min)

Combine the flour and salt in a med. bowl. Add the yeast mixture, and 3/4 cup water. Mix untill combined. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth.

Place in an oiled bowl, and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces and shape into pretzels, of pretzel twists.

You can either boil them in some water with the 1-2 tbs of baking soda for about a 30 sec. to a min., then bake at 400 degrees, or you can skip the boiling, and just bake at 400 degrees, but brush the pretzels with a little egg wash, or melted butter. Sprinkle with Salt.

Bake for 15-20 min, or until golden brown

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Compulsive Crackers

So I'm going to confess a problem that my house currently has. We never have enough snack foods...and me, being a still growing person, needs snackage! So yesterday I decided to fix this problem by making something really cool- homemade crackers. Wile browsing blogs, I happened upon some crackers from Food Stories. Her crackers looked really yummy, and I can be a little compulsive sometimes. I got up from my chair and started to make them. But then... doh!...I don't have some of the ingredients. So I improvised! I used the same proportions, but like swapped ingredients that I didn't have. So It asked for whole meal flour, which when I first read, didn't completely connect in my brain. So for some odd reason, I substituted semolina flour for. Don't ask me why, because reflecting upon it now, still makes me wonder.So I mixed all of my ingredients to make this cute little ball!When you roll it out, make sure that you have enough flour, so that it doesn't stick to the counter : )

So then I got my sprinkles out. I decided to use rosemary, and sea salt.

Then I cut them into triangles, and poked them with a fork, so they would not bubble up in the oven. My first batch in the oven came out burnt, but the second batch came out really good.

Smoked Sea Salt and Fennel Seed Crackers
(rosemary/plain sea salt version)
Food Stories

4oz (1/2 cup0 plain white flour
4oz (1/2 cup)wholemeal flour (for some reason, I used Semolina)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
35m l(approx 1/8 of a cup) olive oil
Smoked salt (or regular (What I used))
Fennel seeds (I used rosemary)

-Mix the flour, baking powder and fine salt in a bowl. Add the oil and then enough water for the dough to come together. It shouldn’t be too sticky.
-On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for around 5 minutes then cover and allow to rest (at room temp) for around 30 minutes.
-Roll out the dough as thin as you can manage without it tearing and cut into desired shapes.
-Sprinkle each cracker with smoked sea salt and fennel seeds to your taste.
-Transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake at 150C/300F/Gas2 for 20-30 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your crackers but they are ready when golden brown and crispy (If you used non-whole wheat four, it will not brown up to much, if it does, then that means that you burnt your crackers like I did first time around: (. Cool on a rack, or in your tummy.

Before you put the crackers in the oven, make indents in the top with a fork to prevent them puffing

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cinnamon chip scones

Ok I'm really excited for spring to finally come! It has finally started to warm up here in central NY. You know, its nice to be able to walk down the street without freezing your hands off : ) So being in a great spring mood, I decided to make scones. I love scones. They are perfect almost anytime of the day. Once you make homemade scones, the pre-packaged stuff will taste like lumps of rock. Generally, I'm not one for cinnamon, but my mom loves cinnamon, so the scones were created originally for my her. I couldn't find a recipe online, so I ended up making these without a recipe to follow. I wrote down the proportions, and have made them ever since. What makes these scones extra yummy is the cinnamon chips.I find that the best cinnamon chips are made by Hershey's. So, you know the drill. You cut the butter into the flour mixture and then add the stuff.Mmm cinnamon chips. Then add the cinnamon mountain!Then you add the wet ingredients, and shape.I know what you thinking! Omg look at all the scones! How many can somebody eat? Yeah, I had to make a double batch, but not for me, for my family's insatiable thirst for scone goodness.Cinnamon Chip Scones

  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Cut the butter into the mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder,cinnamon, and salt. Add chips and toss.

In a separate bowl, beat cream,egg, and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Try not to handle the dough to much.

Shape into 8 lumps. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 min.

Friday, March 14, 2008

No-knead bread

Ahh the infamous no-knead bread. I didn't ever plan on trying it until one day I stumbled upon the most beautiful bread ever on The Kittalog. She was showing a cheddar roasted red pepper bread. I was so pretty! Like I imagined seeing that kind of bread in some artisan bread shop or something. So right then and there I decided to make up a batch of no-knead bread.Then you let it rise.This will make a lot of bread! Just to let you know how much dough this actually is, this is a large bowl. No, this is the largest bowl I have in the whole house. I can fit like three of my heads in the grande sized bowl. So right then I decided that I have to try my hand at this bread. So I took a fourth of it and sprinkled some Parmesan on it and folded it, then shaped it, then sprinkled more cheese on it.It said that you only had to let it sit for like 40 min. But I though that that was insanity! I mean, like how can it rise with big holes in just 40 min!?? So me, being an insecure bread baker, let it rise for more, even though I probably didn't have to. Then I baked it up.This bread was quite yummy.A couple of nights later I baked up another loaf. This loaf was not quite as pretty, but was still good.I decided to leave this bread plain, and it turned out beautifully. All of these breads turned out very nicely, yet somehow I felt that they lacked the depth of flavor, or the texture of some of the other breads that I have baked in the Bread Bible. Don't get me wrong, this bread was great! I'm not really sure what it was, maybe it was just the fact that this bread was so easy! Dare I say it, too easy! For some odd reason, I like a good challenge, and this made my life too simple. lol. I will definitely be making this bread again, but I will continue to bake different breads from the Bread Bible also.

If you have never made bread before, this is another bread recipe that is perfect for you to try! It is so simple, and there is plenty of dough for you to experiment with through out the week!

I got the full recipe for the bread at Gardens by the lake.

No-knead bread

Gardens by the lake
Artisan Bread in five min a day

3 cups lukewarm water (about 100ยบ F)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt

6 1/2 cups all-purpose white flour (no need to sift)

Cornmeal for the pizza peel.

In a 5-quart bowl, mix the yeast, water and salt. Add all the flour, then use a wooden spoon to mix until all ingredients are uniformly moist. It is not necessary to knead or continue mixing once the ingredients are uniformly moist. This will produce a loose and very wet dough.

2.Cover with a lid (not airtight). Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, about 2 hours, but no more than 5 hours.

3. After rising, the dough can be baked immediately, or covered (non completely airtight) and refrigerated up to 14 days. The dough will be easier to work with after at least 3 hours refrigeration.

4. On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the bread from sticking when you transfer it to the oven. Uncover the dough and sprinkle the surface with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough (serrated knives are best). Store the remaining dough in the bowl and refrigerate for baking at another time.

5. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick.
Create a smooth ball of dough by gently pulling the sides down around to the bottom, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. While shaping, most of the dusting flour will fall off. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during resting and baking. Shaping the loaf this way should take no more than 1 minute.

6.Place the dough on the pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest for about 40 minutes. It does not need to be covered. The bread may not rise much during this time.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on the center rack of the oven. If you don't have a baking stone, use another baking sheet. Remove any upper racks. Place a broiler pan on a rack below the pizza stone or on the floor of the oven. Preheat oven to 450 F.

8. When the dough has rested for 40 minutes, dust the top liberally with flour, then use a serrated knife to slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top.

9.Slide the loaf off the peel and onto the baking stone. Quickly but carefully pour 1 cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.

10.Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow the bread to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Roaster red pepper hummus

A staple food in our kitchen is hummus. I have made a bunch of different hummus recipes. Some were to pungent, and some were rather flavorless. This hummus with the addition of roasted red peppers had a really nice flavor, without being overly strong. Its a great recipe to make for a healthy lunch on crackers or pita chips. It is also a great thing to bring to party's as an appetizer. All you do is put everything in the food processor and whirl it all together. Very simple.The lemon juice gives it a nice brightness, off setting the garlic. I used jarred roasted red peppers because it was easy and convenient. If you want to roast your own peppers, by all means go for it! But I wanted to avoid a kitchen hazard which always seems to happen when I'm near an open flame lol. ;) Many hummus recipes call for tahini. I don't use it because I think it smells funky, so I just substitute it for a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds. This makes a very yummy lunch!

Roasted Red pepper Hummus
Inspired my Emeril Lagasses recipe

3 cups drained cooked chickpeas (I used canned chickpeas)
1 roasted red bell pepper, skinned, seeded, and coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2-3 tbs sesame seeds. plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons water
4 to 6 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves opt. for garnish
Paprika for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, sesame seeds, and/or parsley.